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4,000-year-old sunken ship found in Turkey

4,000-year-old sunken ship found in Turkey is among oldest in the world


A recent excavation at the port of Urla underwater archaeological site in Turkey has revealed a sunken ship that is believed to date back 4,000 years, according to a report in Hurriyet Daily News. The surprising discovery is the oldest known shipwreck ever found in the Mediterranean, and is also among the oldest known shipwrecks worldwide.

The discovery was made by the Research Center for Maritime Archaeology (ANKÜSAM) at the University of Ankara, during excavations at the well-known Port of Urla underwater site, a port city located near Izmir. The actual port dates back to the 7 th century BC, but maritime history in the area dates back more than 5,000 years.

The shipwreck in Urla, Turkey

The shipwreck was discovered near Urla, Turkey. Image source.

The port of Urla, which served the ancient Greek settlement of Klazomenai, sunk following a natural disaster, probably an earthquake, in the 8th century BC, making the area popular for underwater research. Numerous sunken ships have already been found in Urla, ranging from the 2 nd century BC to the Ottoman period. Uncovering a ship that is believed to date back to around 2,000 BC, is incredibly rare and significant.

“If we confirm that the sunken ship [we have found] is 4,000 years old, it will be a very important milestone for archaeology,” said Professor Hayat Erkanal, the head of Limantepe excavations for the underwater ancient city of Klozemenai and director of ANKÜSAM.

The research team is now working to confirm its age with more precision, examine its features, and clean salt from the materials to prevent further deterioration. Erkanal explained that it can take up to 8 years to completely remove a sunken ship from the water.

A researcher working on one of the artifacts

A researcher working on one of the artifacts recovered from the ship. Image source: Hurriyet Daily News.

It was only two weeks ago that another significant underwater discovery was made in the Mediterranean – a 2,700-year-old Phoenician shipwreck near Malta’s Gozo island. But the oldest known shipwreck, until now, to have been found in the Mediterranean was the world-famous Uluburun shipwreck, found off the coast of Kas in Turkey in 1982. The Uluburun dates back 3,300 years and contained one of the wealthiest and largest known assemblages of Late Bronze Age items.

It is hoped that the new discovery will provide archaeologists with an abundance of information about society, culture, and maritime history across the Mediterranean.

Featured image: Marine archaeologists work to uncover an artifact found alongside the newly discovered shipwreck. Image source: Hurriyet Daily News.

By April Holloway



angieblackmon's picture

Each wreck provides another piece of the puzzle and more artifacts. I significantly feel as if I've missed my calling. 

love, light and blessings


aprilholloway's picture


April Holloway is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. For privacy reasons, she has previously written on Ancient Origins under the pen name April Holloway, but is now choosing to use her real name, Joanna Gillan.

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